Believe it or not, we’re now 100 days and 15 hours from the 2020 election. As we enter the final stretch of the campaign, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden continues to hold an advantage over President Donald Trump in the polls.
A look at history reveals that while Biden’s clearly the favorite, his victory is not assured in an unprecedented election.
- This is the rare election not about the economy
A Fox News poll earlier this month revealed that 29% of voters said coronavirus/Covid-19 was the most important issue facing the country. That was nearly double the 15% who said the economy.
Going back over time, there have only been a select number of modern elections not about the economy. In each of those elections, the candidate trusted most on this non-economic issue went on to win.
Indeed, vote choice is currently strongly correlated with whether voters think Biden or Trump can better handle coronavirus.
The fact that coronavirus is playing such a big role in voters’ perceptions of Biden, Trump and the presidential race means that for now Trump’s in big trouble. But it also means that if the coronavirus picture changes for the better by November, Trump could come back.
- That said, Trump’s approval rating is really bad
Right now, Trump has approximately a 40% approval rating and a 55% disapproval rating. This makes for a net approval rating of -15 points.
Since 1940, no president has ever won another term in the White House with such a poor net approval rating at this point. The closest was Harry Truman in 1948, whose approval rating was nearly 10 points better at -6 points.
As a group, the presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush) who were not elected to a second term look eerily similar to Trump. Their average net approval rating stood at -13 points.
Trump’s net approval rating isn’t anywhere close to the average president who has earned another term, +23 points.